Barbara Casasola returned to form this season. That was both literally and figuratively true: While her previous collection found the designer experimenting with silhouettes and proportions, this time out she reemphasized her signature shape, a column dress hemmed just above the ankle. But if this was a retread, it wasn't a retreat.

Casasola coaxed a lot of variety of out her column dresses, cutting some of them square and tailoring others, and making suggestive use of color-blocking and sheer organza. Her best innovation here, however, was her Mme. Grès pleats, which were done in silk and seamed into the bodice to create a bustier shape. The standout dress expanded the pleating theme, merging silver pleats into matching satin fringe; it was as if the pleats had come alive somehow, and taken flight. That dress was faced in black cady in back, as were a number of the pleated looks; as she explained, the contrast facing served both a graphic purpose and a practical one, as the matte cady was more flattering than the pleats from the back. That concession to flattery affirmed the impression that Casasola was really thinking, this season, about the women who would be wearing her clothes; when her shapes were monastic, she introduced a sexy element to the look, though never an overbearing one, and when the shapes were lean, she found ways to add fluidity, and make them wearable. Overall, there were lots of advances here, as Casasola continued to refine her distinctive voice.